Mario Johnson, a 6’3″ senior guard/forward formerly of the GB Catholic High School and the Rand Medics of the Commercial League, has signed a letter of intent to join the Providence College men’s basketball program in Otterburne, Manitoba, Canada in January 2011.
“I want to thank my parents and coach Ray Evans for making this day possible,” said Johnson before signing the letter.
“I am just excited to go to work and play the game I love. I’m expecting a whole lot from myself. I am going to work hard and will push myself to the limit and I believe I will achieve a lot,” added Johnson, who plans to major in business.
The Manitoba College Athletic Conference has a long history of providing quality athletic competition for colleges in Manitoba. Providence has been a proud member of the MCAC for over 20 years and has developed friendly rivalries with many of the colleges in the league.
Johnson was recruited by coach Ray Evans of the Blazers Basketball Club, which started in 1992 after Evans received an injury while in college and had decided to come home and make a contribution to the young people.
The Club is a recruiting program that has assisted in sending over 200 young men to school and an additional 50 to 60 students in high schools.
“He will be basically getting his hands wet really quickly,” said Evans.
“He will join three other Bahamians already at Providence; Cleo Sears of Gateway Academy, and Jonathon Thompson from Doris Johnson who is in his second year, both of whom I have recruited. Another one of my recruits, PJ Brice of Doris Johnson will also join them in January so we will have the ‘Bahamian Four’ at Providence so I am very proud of that.”
“It is going to be a good thing for Mario and we expect great things from him,” said Evans.
“He is a slasher with a 29”-30” vertical leap. He has a decent outside jump shot, but we are still working on his mechanics because it is a little bit slow, but if you leave him open he is going to hit it.”
“He can play multiple positions. This is one of the reasons why Providence and other schools were interested in him.
“He has a tremendous upside which was something I noticed when I saw him play two years ago at the Hugh Campbell tournament in Nassau. His ball handling skill is very good for someone his size and who has played out of his position while in high school, but he has worked on his own game and it is getting better.”
Johnson’s father, Derek Johnson, was on hand for the signing and was very proud of the fact that even though he didn’t have the opportunity to go to college, his son now has.
“You know God is good, it happen just one night while playing in the commercial league, we begin to talk to coach Evans and he said he will make some calls and everything just started to fall into place.”
“But being a basketball player and not having the opportunity to play college ball – this is very good to see that my son will have that opportunity.” said a proud dad, who also played on the Medics commercial team.
“I am very proud of him he is very diligent. If he wants to do something, he has the initiative and he will do it on his own.
“He wants to be this exceptional person and with that mindset, I feel he will do very well, as long as he put the work in, I believe he will accomplish it.”
This season the Providence Freemen have a 1-4 win loss record in the MCAC, and are coached by Juan Larios.
“He has a lot of potential because he listens,” said Evans. “That is the problem for most of our Bahamian athletes is that when they go away to school they don’t listen. They believe they have already arrived. But he listens and he understands what is being said to him.”
By Buster Laing
Reprinted from The Freeport News